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The Fair Work Commission (FWC) won’t start hearing bullying claims until January 2014, under legislation currently before federal parliament.

The federal government amended the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013 two weeks ago to change the start date from July to January.

The bill has passed the House of Representatives and is now in the Senate.

If the bill passes both houses of parliament, from January workers in constitutionally covered businesses will be able to apply to the FWC for an order to stop bullying.

The FWC will be able to issue any order it considers appropriate, other than the payment of money.

For more details, visit the bill.

Abuse allegations in the Australian Army are under investigation and have led to a strong show of leadership from the army’s top brass.

The Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, said in a media statement last week that investigations are underway into the alleged production and distribution of “highly inappropriate material demeaning women, across both Defence computer systems and the public internet”.

“Every person in the Australian Defence Force deserves the right to serve without any kind of physical, mental and sexual abuse and I will defend their right to do so in a fair, just and inclusive workplace,” he said.

He pointed to a systemic problem within Defence. “In the wake of the ADFA (Australian Defence Force Academy) ‘Skype’ case, and the series of inquiries and reviews into various aspects of the ADF culture and military justice over the last 20 years, the leadership of the ADF no longer accepts the ‘bad apple’ argument when one of these incidents occurs,” he says.

“These behaviours are symptoms of a systemic problem and we will continue to address them in a comprehensive manner, through Defence’s Pathway to Change strategy.”

He said three members of the Australian Army have been suspended in response to the allegations, and other suspensions will be considered, pending civilian police and Defence investigations into the behaviour.

Meanwhile, Brian Briggs, head of Slater & Gordon’s military compensation group, said in a media statement that a systemic culture of abuse has existed in the military for years.

“I’ve spoken to dozens of female defence clients who left the forces because of instances of sexual harassment, discrimination and abuse, even as recently as this month.”

He is concerned that the current incident involves high-ranking officers.

“No person, woman or man, should tolerate any form of abuse, nor should it be tolerated,” he says.

“This is important for not only our defence force, but for the wider community.”

For more details, visit Defence and Slater and Gordon.


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